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San Antonio Probate Blog

Parents and children may want to discuss care and estate planning

Some Texas residents may have had friends who have ended up in a difficult position where medical decisions had to be made for a loved one. The friend may have indicated that his or her family member did not create any type of plan that stated how such a medical situation should be handled, and as a result, that person may have faced a great deal of uncertainty during an already difficult time. This type of situation may have some parties considering talking about care and estate planning with their close family.

In particular, children may want to broach the topic of long-term care with their parents. It may seem uncomfortable to bring up, but if individuals do not know what their parents' wishes are in the event that they become incapacitated, confusion and concern may reign. In fact, after bringing up the topic, some parties may find that their parents have created plans but did not tell the children about them.

The challenge of choosing a power of attorney

There are many decisions to wrestle with when creating an estate plan. Few families are so harmonious that the parents are able to easily designate assets and authority without a twinge of uncertainty. Perhaps you have more than a twinge as you consider the documents you wish to include in your estate plan.

Among the most difficult choices you will be making is to whom you will assign power of attorney. The person with this authority will have control of your finances, your health care decisions or both. Your decision will likely be based on a number of factors, but even your most careful consideration may not prevent contention and challenges among your children if the time comes for your POA to assume duties.

Could family discussion lessen the chances of probate litigation?

Family relationships often prove difficult. While many Texas residents are able to get along well enough with their loved ones, there are still certain situations in which a rift could easily occur. In particular, if a parent dies and the contents of his or her estate plan come as a surprise, disagreements and possibly even probate litigation could take place.

In hopes of avoiding such outcomes, individuals may want to discuss their plans with their loved ones. Still, if one child has an issue with certain choices and another child disagrees on other details, parties can still have a difficult time finding the best way to create their plans. However, open communication can often help families better understand and potentially resolve conflicts before the need for litigation arises.

Family conflict often leads to probate litigation

Families often have disagreements. Conflict typically comes with the territory no matter how much Texas family members love each other. When a loved one dies, the potential for conflict may increase as emotions run high, and some individuals may feel entitled to certain assets or have concerns about the decedent's true intentions. When these issues come about, probate litigation may take place.

A recent report indicated that out of 109 estate planning professionals, 44 percent indicated that family disputes would likely act as a main concern for those creating their estate plans. In fact, over 50 percent of these individuals also indicated that their clients have the most difficult time dealing with areas of planning that address guardianships and beneficiaries. It is likely that these struggles come from worrying about family members disagreeing about the decisions.

Estate plans may help probate go more smoothly

Closing an estate is a complex process. Surviving family members have many decisions to make and affairs to address, and without instructions left behind by their deceased loved ones, Texas residents can face a difficult estate administration process. However, having an estate plan to follow could help probate go more smoothly.

There are many aspects of an estate plan that can benefit surviving loved ones. First of all, individuals can use their wills to put a person in charge of handling the necessary probate duties. This personal representative will address the various tasks associated with closing the estate, and because the estate plan appoints the person, the court will not have to appoint an administrator. As a result, there may be less chance of conflict.

A 2nd marriage may have kids considering probate litigation

Getting married more than once is common for many Texas residents. These second or additional marriages may also come with children from previous marriages, and blended families are created. Though some individuals may feel very attached to their stepparents and stepsiblings, it is possible that conflict could arise after a biological parent's passing. As a result, probate litigation could ensue.

Feelings of distrust, disdain or other negative emotions can go from a child to a stepparent or vice versa. The child may wonder about the new spouse's true intentions, and the stepparent may wonder if the child is trying to cheat him or her out of a rightful bequest. If a parent dies and leaves a great deal of the estate to the stepparent or stepchildren, it is not unusual for biological children to question whether that is the outcome that should have occurred. 

How long will my loved one's probate take?

After the death of your loved one, you may be feeling many emotions. Even if your family member lived a long and full life, there is undoubtedly sorrow and loss with which to contend.

At the same time you are struggling to come to terms with the absence of your loved one, you are facing the uncertainty of the probate process. Perhaps your loved one left a simple will, or there was no plan at all. In either case, the long and often frustrating legal steps required to close his or her estate are often full of mystery and unpredictability. Like many, you may first want to know how long the process of probate will last.

If a will was left behind, probate will likely be necessary

Dealing with any type of legal proceeding can be difficult. Most people do not understand the intricate ins and outs involved with various situations that require legal attention, and this lack of knowledge may leave some Texas residents feeling concerned when they need to move forward with such a process. For instance, some individuals may need to probate their loved ones' estate after their passing.

Though most people have a general idea about probate, they may not know what it entails. If a deceased individual left behind a will, the probate process involves validating that will to ensure that it was properly created and shows the decedent's true wishes. If there is concern that the will may not be valid, problems could arise.

Probate: Are children responsible for a deceased parent's debt?

The loss of a parent can be a difficult event in any Texas resident's life. Grief can greatly affect many people, and on top of those feelings, some surviving children may also need to take on the responsibilities associated with closing their parents' estates. These tasks are generally taken care of during the probate process, but some concerns regarding remaining debt may loom quickly.

Luckily, in most cases, surviving children are not responsible for the debt left behind by a parent. Some creditors may try to convince an adult child that he or she is responsible simply as a means to obtain payment. Usually, parental debt must be covered by a child only if the child co-signed a loan, shared credit or took similar actions that caused him or her to have an obligation to pay the debt.

Probate can serve many purposes in Texas

After a person's death, his or her financial affairs can still go on for an extended period of time. Many aspects of the estate will need addressing, and most likely, probate proceedings will need to take place. This process can take time and much effort to complete, and surviving Texas family members may face complications as well.

Probate generally involves transferring assets from the deceased individual to the heirs or beneficiaries. If the decedent created a will, an executor will likely have been named to address the probate proceedings, and if not, the court would appoint a representative to handle the necessary tasks. Often, the appointed individual petitions to become the executor when making the request to open probate proceedings.

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC
909 NE Loop 410
Suite 602
San Antonio, TX 78209

Phone: 210-418-1150
Fax: 210-598-7221

909 NE Loop 410 Suite 602
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